ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: Center for American Progress’ Heather Boushey—Let’s Get People Back to Work!
February 27, 2009 posted by admin The best thing we can do for women and their families is to get people back to work. We’ve seen 3.6 million jobs disappear over the past year and millions more have seen their hours cut back. The recession is turning out to be deeper and more protracted than many had predicted even a few months ago. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a down payment on creating jobs in the months to come and laying the foundation for long-term economic growth. The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that the recovery package will save or create 3.5 million jobs and that about four in ten of these jobs will go to women workers. In particular, the recovery package will help states avoid some cutbacks, which takes some women’s jobs out of jeopardy since women make up the majority of state and local government workers. But, most importantly, the recovery package will get the economy back on track, which benefits all kinds of families. The recession – so far – is leading to higher unemployment among men than women: as of December 2008, the latest data available by gender, men account for four out of every five jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007. This means that in millions of U.S. households, it is a woman who is supporting the family. This means that families will have to rely increasingly on women’s earnings, which are typically lower than men’s and are less likely to come with health insurance. Now is the time to insist that every woman earns a fair day’s pay.
The poor economy and lack of job creation also means that families will need to ensure that they do what they can to keep parents working; losing a job because a parent needs some time off to care for a sick child, for example, will be create increased hardships for families since finding a new job is now so much more difficult. Every worker needs job-protected leave when they are ill or when they need to care for a family member. Finally, families are increasingly relying on workers who are working less than full-time, so ensuring that those workers have access to health insurance and fair pay is increasingly important. The recovery package alone will not be enough to close the gap completely between what the economy is producing and what our economy has the capacity to produce. Millions will remain idle until the economy gets fully back on track. As we move forward through the budget process, Congress should keep this in mind and continue to focus on programs that can stimulate the economy in the short-run. Along these lines, work-family balance policies are an excellent investment in our long-term economic growth and can also provide short-term economic stimulus. --Heather Boushey, Senior Economist, Center for American Progress This post is part of a forum